Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Terror gripped Jacob's ankle and pulled him into its dark depths.  Every hair on his chubby twelve year old body stood on end, his heart seemed to enlarge with every beat, and beads of sweat began to form on his forehead.  Adrenaline shot through his body as if he’d been given a triple dose with an EpiPen and his mouth was suddenly devoid of all saliva making it hard to swallow.

It was hot in the 3x4 storage bin, hotter than the sauna at Eastbourne Rec Center.  For a moment he thought he might faint and fought the impulse to push the lid open and jump out. Instead, he lifted the lid just enough so that he could get a breath of fresh air.  He took a few deep breaths and closed the lid. The lid immediately became his security blanket then he hid himself under the real blanket because that’s what the storage bin was used for.

His mother had just left for her weekly writing class at PAMA.  She didn’t like to leave him alone for too long, it wasn’t because she didn’t trust him, he was mature for his age with good common sense, it was just that there were a lot of shady characters living in the apartment building, and shady characters did shady things.  She had made him lunch and had left him sitting up in his bed happily typing away at his laptop, grilled cheese sandwich in hand.

A few minutes after his mother had left, Jacob heard rattling at the door.  He got up and tip-toed down the hallway, intending to hide in the coat closet and jump out once his mother opened the door.  She must have forgotten something, he thought.  He was almost at the coat closet when he heard strange voices coming from behind the door.  Doesn’t sound like the Super, he thought.  Then he saw the doorknob move; they were strangers and they were trying to get in.

Jacob stopped in his tracks. For a moment he couldn’t move, but he remembered what his mother told him if something like this ever happened, and with his mother’s words echoing in his head he went back down the hallway to his room, to his closet, and to the storage bin. He knelt with his head facing the bottom of the bin, covered himself with the blankets that were inside, and froze.

“Close the goddamn door, you moron!” said a man’s voice.

“Shut-up!” said another man’s voice.

Jacob heard the door close, they were inside.

“Check the living room and kitchen,” said the first voice, “I’ll check the bedrooms.”

Jacob thought he was going to die.  He listened as a man walked past his bedroom and went to his mother’s bedroom.  He heaved a sigh of relief as he realized he had another few minutes before he was found out. 

Suddenly, something sounded in his pocket.  He fumbled for the thing and when he brought it up to his eyes he felt a little hope.  His mini-ipad never looked so good.  He dismissed the Facebook notification and in his status update he wrote: help me i  am home alone n sum1 has broken in call police hurry! He didn’t know exactly how much time he had before the men came in and found him, but he knew for sure it wouldn’t be long so he sent a mass email to every one of his contacts with the same message and hoped that someone would see it.

Jacob grew more frightened as he heard glass breaking in the kitchen followed by cursing, and all the kitchen cupboard doors seemed to be banging at once.  The second man was now in the living room while the first man was still rummaging through his mother’s belongings.  It was getting hotter in the bin.  The air was stale.  Once more he lifted the lid for a few breaths of fresh air.  It seemed like he had been in there for hours.  He called to his mother in his mind’s eye, he screamed at her to come home, he cried and begged, and screamed until his throat seemed to burn.  Sweat seemed to burst out of his pores and his t-shirt stuck to his skin, tears spilled out of his eyes.

A loud bark came from the room his mother used as an office.  Lady!  Oh my god, please don’t hurt Lady! he thought.  The dog began to bark when the second man opened the door to the office.  Jacob heard a loud yelp come from his faithful companion, his heart sank and he felt vomit come to the back of his throat.

The first man was still in his mother’s bedroom and the second man was in the office.  Jacob was surrounded.  He found it harder to breathe, his lungs seemed to be filled with cement, and his intestines were tied in a hundred knots. He was just about to lift the lid again when the second man entered his room. Mom! Where are you! Help me! 

The other man entered the room and both of them were going through Jacob’s dresser drawers and cubby baskets.

“Nothing much in here, nothing useful, anyway,” said the first man.

“How about this laptop here?” said his partner.

“What model is it?” said the first man, sitting on Jacob’s bed.   He examined Jacob’s laptop and decided to leave it.  “Won’t get nothing for this, it’s too old.  Check the closet.”

His partner walked over to the closet and started rummaging through plastic drawers.  “Nothing but cheap plastic toys,” he grunted in disgust. He leaned closer into the closet and lifted the lid on the bin.

Jacob fainted.

Just as the man’s hand was about to grab the blanket that covered Jacob a siren sounded.  Both men dashed for the door.

When Jacob awakened, a man in a uniform was kneeling over him, and something was on his face.  Is this Heaven? he thought.  And then he saw policemen, many policemen. 

“Are you Jacob?” one policeman asked as he bent down to get a closer look at him.

Jacob nodded.

"It's okay, son, those men are in custody, and your mother is on her way. You’re safe now.” Lady licked the side of his cheek; he was glad that she was okay.

Jacob closed his eyes; he had never heard such sweeter words. As he relaxed and took a deep breath of the pure oxygen, the ipad he had been clutching fell to the floor.